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Hamilton on human rights: I can’t choose where to race

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP talks in the Drivers Press Conference during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 25, 2021 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton has spoken out about recent discussions on human rights with officials from Bahrain and the UK ambassador.

The driver is recognized worldwide for his efforts in promoting diversity, equality, and the protection of human and animal rights.

The Briton had received letters from multiple human rights organizations last year, claiming that Bahrain (and Saudi Arabia) is linked to human rights violations, including torture and sexual assaults.

Hamilton said that the letters “weighed quite heavily” on him. “It’s the first time I received letters like that along my travels.”

He revealed discussions about human rights with several Bahraini officials, including UK’s ambassador on Bahrain, Roderick Drummond.

“I’ve taken, for the last few months, time to try and educate myself because coming here all these years, I wasn’t aware of all the detail of the human rights issues.

“So I spent time speaking to legal human rights experts, have spent time speaking to human rights organizations like Amnesty, have seen the UK ambassador here in Bahrain and I’ve spoken to Bahrain officials also,” he said.

Hamilton, however, declined to comment on the outcome of those discussions. “The steps that I’ve taken really have been private and I think that’s the right way to go about it.”

Asked on how Formula 1 should react to the accusations of human rights violations, Hamilton replied:

“It’s not in my power to choose where we go and race.

“But just reflecting again back on the powerful position that we are in, in terms of the responsibility, human rights, I don’t think, should be a political issue. We all deserve equal rights.

“In terms of whether it’s Formula 1’s responsibility, I don’t know if that’s for me to say. But as I said, I’m taking steps and understanding.

“As a sport, we do go to a lot of different places and we visit lots of different, beautiful countries and cultures. And naturally, there are issues all around the world. But I don’t think that we should be going to these countries and just ignoring what is happening in those places and arriving, having a great time and then leave,” he concluded on the topic.

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